By Tauhira Ajam for the Cape Town etc | February 10, 2023
The “sober curious” trend is on the rise, driven by increasing consumer demand for non-alcoholic products that provide an elevating drinking experience without the risk of losing any inhibitions. This is only just the start of the growing movement.
No/low-alcohol consumption is estimated to increase by a third by 2026, spearheaded by the growth of non-alcoholic products which are expected to account for over 90% of the forecast total category volume growth.
Interestingly, non-alcoholic spirits will see some of the more dynamic growth as brand owners invest in innovation and products are given more space by retailers and on-trade, according to a study conducted by IWSR, the leading source of data and insight on the global beverage alcohol market.
Karl Fielding, VP for the Middle East and Africa for Lyre’s, the world’s most awarded non-alcoholic spirits company, says that the non-alcoholic sector is undergoing a revolution in terms of popularity as an increasing number of people are choosing to avoid alcohol on certain occasions or abstain from it completely.
“Consumers’ palates are becoming more adventurous and sophisticated in cuisine and beverage choice,” he explains. “High-end independent restaurants are at the forefront of catering to these desires and that’s where we are seeing the most demand for Lyre’s products.”
He points out that the ‘sober curious’ and ‘better for you’ lifestyle is driven by many factors. “The 18–35-year-old demographic are spending more time than ever across social sharing platforms and building their own identity,” he explains. “We know that post Covid consumers are spending more time being social, out with friends, but also want to capitalise on their free time with rewarding experiences like going to the gym and experimenting with things like mixology and cooking. “
He continues: “…the entire non-alcoholic category has grown significantly; this is really driven by an increase in moderating alcohol consumption and a thirst for elevated drinking experiences for drinkers and non-drinkers alike. Globally nearly a third of people are not consuming alcohol when they are out.”
Fielding says that the ‘mindful drinker’ is – consumer that is moderating their consumption of alcohol. “Whether this is taking part in ‘non-drinking’ months and occasions or just drinking less when they are out, people are driven by taste and experience rather than alcohol strength. This has led to the growth of both the non-alcoholic and low-alcoholic cocktail trend.”
Frictionless drinking – swapping non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks interchangeably is all about moderation. “We know that more people are drinking less, rather than not drinking at all,” he says. “This may mean switching from alcoholic drinks to non-alcoholic whilst out or choosing to reduce the number of occasions that they consume alcohol. The availability of sophisticated non-alcoholic options now gives consumers a better, more socially inclusive option when out as opposed to say water or soda.”